Farms vigilant over outbreak

PUBLISHED: 06:18 08 February 2007 | UPDATED: 21:32 29 May 2010

FARMS in the area are being vigilant following the news this week that bird flu has been found on a turkey farm in Suffolk. Diana Hulkes, owner of Fishers Farm, a free range chicken farm in Beazley End said Defra had sent her leaflets informing her abou

FARMS in the area are being vigilant following the news this week that 'bird flu' has been found on a turkey farm in Suffolk.

Diana Hulkes, owner of Fishers Farm, a free range chicken farm in Beazley End said Defra had sent her leaflets informing her about the situation and stating it would contact her if there was an outbreak in the area.

"In the meantime, we don't have to take precautions like those we saw during the foot and mouth outbreak such as putting down bowls of disinfectant because that is not how bird flu is carried," she said.

"What we are doing is keeping a close eye on our birds and any wild birds. If we notice quite a few, let's say a dozen, die in a short period of time, then we'll contact the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra),straight away.

"No one is being complacent, everyone in the industry is doing the best they can do."

Marks Hall Turkey Farm in White Roding and Great Garretts in Bishops Green, Barnston are fortunate that they don't currently have turkeys on their farms as it is a seasonal livestock.

Their poults, turkey chicks, are taken onto the farms in June where they are reared until Christmas.

Jane Haigh, co-owner of Mark Hall Turkey Farm and chairman of the Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association, said; "We are very concerned about this but we don't think it will affect our customers. We have stringent bio-security in force and the association come and check us on a regular basis."

Jonathan Smith, owner of Great Garretts, said: "The industry has been preparing itself for this for some time. We hoped it would not come to the UK, but it has.

"Defra has a system in place and it would appear that it is working. At the Bernard Matthews' farm, flu was found in one shed out of 22. It looks unlikely that it has spread any further."

Both Mrs Haigh and Mr Smith praised Defra for the way it had sent them text messages updating them on the outbreak and stating the measures it had put in place.

"The Bernard Matthews' farm is in a totally different boat to us, they factory farm and the birds are kept housed," said Mrs Haigh. "But still, it is amazing that it got into the farm in the first place. The bio-security they have in such plants is very high indeed."

Mr Smith added: "Customers should not be concerned about catching it as it has been proved it is only passed on to humans if they are living with poultry like in Asia. In the UK, birds are not kept in the house."

"If the human form of it is brought into this country, it will be carried, not by any avian breed, but spread by people flying."

Mrs Haigh and Mr Smith say people should not be put off eating poultry as in the unlikely event of someone buying an infected bird, cooking kills the disease.

"People should always ensure they cook poultry properly at any time," said Mr Smith. "Let's face it, if you don't you're going to be in trouble regardless of avian flu or not.

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